ANDREW JACKSON WEBBER.
Among the prominent and highly esteemed citizens whom Saline county has been called upon to mourn within the past few months none will be more greatly missed than Andrew Jackson Webber, one of the leading men of Galatia, who was familiarly known among his acquaintances and associates as “Jack” Webber. A native of Southern Illinois, he was born September 11, 1845, on a farm lying two miles southeast of Galatia, a son of the late Henry Webber.
His paternal grandfather, who was also the grandfather of his widow, Mrs. Annie J. (Webber) Webber, was John M. Webber, the immigrant ancestor of the Webber family of America, the name having been spelled in the old country “Weber.” John M. Webber was born in Holland, on the banks of the Rhine, November 10, 1794. When twelve years old he came with his mother to the United States, and for several years lived in Philadelphia, where he was educated. Going to Tennessee in 1823, he lived in Rutherford county until 1830, when, with his family, he came to Saline county, Illinois, and purchased land near Galatia where he improved the fine estate now known as the Webber homestead. He was there prosperously employed in tilling the soil until his death, in 1867. He married, in Philadelphia,
Elizabeth McQueen, who was born in Virginia, in 1793 and died on the home farm in 1869, having survived him but two years.
Henry Webber was a small lad when he came from Tennessee to Saline county. He grew to manhood on the homestead, as a boy and youth becoming familiar with all branches of agriculture. He was a man of great energy and enterprise, and in 1855 erected the first steam mill in Saline county. The following year he located in Galatia, and here erected the first steam mill in this section of the county. He had previously operated a threshing machine while living on the home farm, and for several years after settling in Galatia he was engaged in milling. Finally making a change of occupation, he disposed of his mill and, in company with his son “Jack,” opened a general store under the firm name of H. Webber & Son, and in addition to selling general merchandise handled tobacco on an extensive scale, selling about a million pounds annually. In 1888 he disposed of his store, which had become the largest mercantile establishment in the county, although he retained ownership of a second mill which he had erected, placing his son “Jack” in charge of that plant, which is still owned by the Webber estate. After selling his store, Henry Webber established the Bank of Galatia, which was owned by the old firm of H. Webber & Son, and placed the son in charge of the institution, while he, himself, devoted his time and attention to the care of the home farm, living on the place until his death, April 18, 1899, at the age of seventy-six years, five months and four days, his birth having occurred in Philadelphia, September 14, 1822. His wife, whose maiden name was Mary Jane Rhine, died in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where she had gone for her health, April 20, 1884.
Succeeding to the ownership of the old homestead the mill and the bank established by himself and his father, Andrew Jackson Webber became very active in the commercial world, and was identified with various enterprises connected with the development of the resources of Saline county, including the Galatia Coal Company, one of the leading industrial organizations of this part of the county. He carried on a substantial business, and through legitimate channels of industry, trade and finance accumulated property which at the most conservative estimate is valued at a million or more dollars. As a banker, a miller, and a farmer he met with eminent success, fortune smiling upon his every effort. Mr. Webber made a part of his fortune through the increase of land values in Saline county, where he owned thousands of acres, while the Bank of Galatia, the mill and the farms, brought him in handsome annual returns, and his large investments in town property were of great value. In 1876 Mr. Webber erected several business houses in Galatia, one of which, the two story brick building in which his store was located, having been burned in 1896. He immediately rebuilt it, and in May, 1911, that structure was destroyed by fire and is being rebuilt by the estate for store and hotel purposes. The death of Mr. Webber, which occurred on the old Webber homestead near Galatia, November 4, 1910, was a loss not only to his immediate family, but to the community, and was a cause of general regret.
Mr. Webber married, March 20, 1875, his cousin, Annie J. Webber, a daughter of John Webber one of the leading supporters of the Methodist Episcopal church, as was his father, John M. Webber.
John Webber was born January 24, 1819, in Philadelphia, and at the age of four years moved with his parents to Rutherford county, Tennessee. In 1830 he came with the family to Saline county, and until nineteen years of age assisted his father in the pioneer labor of
clearing and improving a farm. Soon after attaining his majority he married Eliza Powell, who was born in Gallatin county, Illinois, in 1824. In 1844 he migrated to Phelps county, Missouri, and having purchased a tract of land near the present city of Rolla, built the first house erected in that vicinity and donated the site of Rolla. He met with great success as an agriculturist, and likewise became one of the leading merchants of Rolla. He gave a tract of land lying on the north side of the town on which Fort Webber was built, the site of the old fort being now occupied by the Missouri School of Mines. His wife died in 1859.
Annie J. Webber was born in Phelps county, Missouri, on her father's farm, and well remembers many of the thrilling incidents connected with pioneer days in Missouri. She recalls when the city of Rolla was started, and has distinct recollections of the precautions which the farmers had to take to prevent the destruction of cattle and stock by the wild animals that held nightly carnival near her home. During the Civil war she came to Saline county to complete her education in the Raleigh schools, and there became acquainted with “Jack” Webber, who wooed her ardently, followed her to her Missouri home, and brought her back to Illinois to become his bride. They were married at Eldorado, Illinois, March 20, 1876. She is still living in Galatia, where she is held in high respect for her many virtues and charms. She has two children, namely: John Henry Webber, of Galatia, born December 28, 1877, and Mrs. May Olive Burns, of Thompsonville, born September 18, 1885. Another son, William Jackson, died in infancy. He was born Febrnary 8, 1880.